Kosovo: The Diplomatic and Military Options

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1 27 OCTOBER 1998 Kosovo: The Diplomatic and Military Options On 12 October 1998 a breakthrough was announced in attempts to resolve the conflict between separatist and government forces in the predominantly ethnic- Albanian province of Kosovo. To ensure progress towards a diplomatic solution is maintained, NATO ministers decided on 12 October to issue Belgrade with a four-day ultimatum, later extended by a further ten days, warning of military action if full compliance with UN demands is not demonstrated. This paper looks at developments in Kosovo since July 1998 and details the reaction of the international community. It then analyses the recent peace agreement and considers the prospects for a successful resolution of the crisis. The detailed background and origins of the current conflict are covered by Research Paper 98/73 Kosovo. Tim Youngs INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE SECTION HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY

2 Recent Library Research Papers include: List of 15 most recent RPs 98/78 EMU: the constitutional implications /79 Child Benefit /80 Voting Systems - The Government's Proposals (2 nd revised edition) /81 Cancellation of Third World Debt /82 Working Time Regulations SI 1998 No /83 Unemployment by Constituency - July /84 Fireworks /85 House of Lords reform: developments since the general election /86 Parliamentary Pay and Allowances: Current Rates /87 The Criminal Justice (Terrorism & Conspiracy) Bill Bill 244 of /88 Unemployment by Constituency - August /89 Democracy in Russia /90 Unemployment by Constituency - September /91 The Strategic Defence Review White Paper /92 The Reform of the European Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund Research Papers are available as PDF files: to members of the general public on the Parliamentary web site, URL: within Parliament to users of the Parliamentary Intranet, URL: Library Research Papers are compiled for the benefit of Members of Parliament and their personal staff. Authors are available to discuss the contents of these papers with Members and their staff but cannot advise members of the general public.

3 Summary of main points Fighting in Kosovo between the separatist Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) and the predominantly Serb forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) continued throughout the summer months. In July FRY forces launched an offensive against the badly equipped and trained KLA, regaining at least temporary control of much of the province. The fighting has impacted severely on the civilian population and has displaced around 250,000 refugees. The use of scorched earth tactics by Yugoslav forces has resulted in the destruction of homes, food supplies and livestock, raising fears of an impending humanitarian disaster during the winter. As the government offensive continued, international pressure on President Slobodan Milosevic increased. The UN Security Council demanded that FRY forces withdraw from the province and called for negotiations between Belgrade and the ethnic Albanian leadership, but disagreements on the use of force remained. Russia and China strongly opposed military action, whereas Western leaders believed that Milosevic would only bow to the demands of the UN if faced with the immediate threat of air strikes. In late October NATO increased the pressure on Belgrade by proposing a wide-ranging air campaign against the FRY, while the US special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, held intensive talks with Milosevic. On 12 October, as NATO ministers authorised air strikes to start in four days, Holbrooke announced he had obtained an undertaking from Milosevic to comply with the demands of the UN Security Council. The main aspect of the agreement relates to a political settlement to the crisis. The timetable agreed with Milosevic is for agreement to be reached by 2 November on the core elements of a political settlement, based on a paper proposed by the Contact Group. By 9 November rules and procedures will have been drawn up for elections, which are to be held within nine months under OSCE supervision. Two further agreements have been signed to assist with verification of the planned reduction of FRY forces in Kosovo to pre-conflict levels. Verification from the air will be conducted by NATO reconnaissance planes, possibly with Russian involvement. On the ground, a 2000-strong "verification force" will be deployed under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). On 24 October the Security Council endorsed the agreements reached with Belgrade, but did not give explicit authorisation for action by NATO forces if the FRY fails to comply with UN demands. To maintain the pressure on Milosevic NATO imposed an extended deadline of 27 October for Belgrade to comply or face air strikes. Further talks between Milosevic and NATO commanders yielded an agreement governing the required scale of withdrawals by government forces, but a number of doubts remained over the issue of Belgrade's compliance and the possible reaction of the KLA.

4 CONTENTS I Developments between July and October A. The July Offensive by Government Forces 7 B. The Humanitarian Impact of the Fighting 9 II International Reaction 11 A. NATO Threatens Air Strikes 12 B. Russian and Chinese Opposition to Air Strikes 14 III The Diplomatic Offensive 15 A. The Agreement The Political Settlement The Verification Agreements The International War Crimes Tribunal 19 B. Reaction to the Plan Reaction from Belgrade Ethnic-Albanian Reaction 22 C. The Position of the United Kingdom 23 IV The Military Option 25 A. The Legal Basis for the Use of Force 25 B. The Balance of Forces 27 C. Possible Targets for an Air Campaign 28 D. Future Developments 28 Appendix 1 29 Appendix 2 33 Appendix 3 37

5 I Developments between July and October 1998 A. The July Offensive by Government Forces The fighting that began in March 1998 between the guerrilla fighters of the separatist Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) and the government forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) continued throughout the summer months. By the end of September the KLA had suffered a number of reverses at the hands of the better-equipped and trained government troops, losing much of the territory it had captured earlier in the summer, including one of its principal strongholds at Malisevo. One of the main reasons for the setbacks endured by the KLA appears to be its abandonment of guerrilla tactics in favour of attempting to take and hold ground in the face of the superior firepower of the Yugoslavs. During the spring and early summer the KLA did enjoy some initial success in capturing an estimated 40 per cent of Kosovo, but the high point came with the attempt to seize and hold the town of Orahovac in western Kosovo during mid-july. In response, the Yugoslav Army and security forces launched an extensive counter-offensive in late July aimed at destroying the support network established throughout Kosovo by the KLA, especially in the border region with Albania. The separatists have been hampered by a severe lack of heavy weaponry, a lack of training and poor co-ordination between local commanders. KLA fighters admitted in late August that their attempts to hold territory had failed and promised a return to more effective "hit-and-run" operations. A member of the Kosovar Albanian negotiating team said in August: The concept of liberated zones has been defeated. The KLA fell into the trap of thinking you could have territorial defence. Now they must use mobile guerrilla tactics with small, well-trained units. 1 Some observers have questioned why the Yugoslav authorities took so long to respond to the significant advances made by the KLA during the first months of hostilities. It is possible that Belgrade decided to allow the KLA to overstretch itself before inflicting a strong counterblow. FRY forces also appear to have gained vital intelligence on the KLA during that period, which has been used effectively in the recent offensive, enabling the security forces to target KLA strongholds accurately. The start of the offensive in late July by the Yugoslav Army and the interior ministry special police forces, known as the MUP, marked an important shift in approach by Belgrade. Prior to that point, the MUP had been responsible for most operations against the KLA, whereas the Yugoslav Army had been deployed solely along Kosovo's external borders with Albania and FYR Macedonia (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). However, the Yugoslav Army subsequently engaged in joint operations 1 Guardian, 19 August

6 with the security forces inside Kosovo, and on 25 July it was announced that operational control had been transferred from the security forces to the Yugoslav Army. The apparent aims of the government offensive were to restore control of important lines of communication; to disrupt the operations of the KLA and to severely dislocate its support network; and to punish villages suspected of providing assistance to the KLA, such as Malisevo. The main routes linking Pec to Pristina, Kosovska Mitrovica to Pec and Pristina to Prizren are seen as vital, but may prove difficult for government forces to hold against sporadic KLA attacks, should fighting resume. In the face of the government forces' overwhelming superiority in heavy weaponry, the KLA offered little resistance, although it is far from defeated and should be able to regroup during the late autumn and winter, aided by the planned pull-back of government forces under international supervision. The KLA's structure, which was never particularly cohesive, has been badly disrupted by the government offensive. This may further encourage the development of strong autonomous groupings that may hinder efforts to impose any centralised control, making future attempts to negotiate with the KLA fraught with complexity. There is little diplomatic pressure that the West can bring to bear on the KLA, which is largely financed by donations from the Albanian diaspora in Western Europe. 2 The KLA leadership declared a cease-fire on 8 October, calculating that such a move would be more likely to increase the international pressure on Milosevic and ensure NATO air strikes went ahead. 3 In the aftermath of the agreement reached between Holbrooke and Milosevic, reports in mid-october suggested the cease-fire had begun to crumble. In response to the killing of three Serb policemen in a KLA grenade attack on 17 October, government forces carried out attacks on KLA bases in central Kosovo, using tanks and artillery. Low level conflict, often initiated by the KLA, is likely to continue during the winter. KLA commanders warned that they would resume full military action if Belgrade failed to withdraw forces by the NATO deadline of 27 October, although large-scale operations will be hampered by the worsening weather conditions. Sokol Bashota, a KLA political officer, stated that the aim of any future action would be "to break the morale of the Serb forces" by attacking isolated outposts and larger units "when they are not ready and not expecting us." Scotsman, 21 October 1998 Guardian, 9 October 1998 International Herald Tribune, 23 October

7 B. The Humanitarian Impact of the Fighting Government forces have been keen to avoid heavy troop casualties and have relied on their superior firepower to pound suspected KLA strongholds, forcing the civilian population to flee. Belgrade maintained that its sole aim was to isolate the KLA "terrorists" from the civilian population and not to target the civilian population itself, although international observers disputed this claim. 5 While it is true that, with the exception of a series of atrocities committed in late September, civilian casualties have not occurred on the same scale as in Bosnia, the death rate has the potential to increase substantially during the winter months due to the scorched earth policy adopted by government troops. Federal units have systematically razed Kosovar homes to the ground, destroyed food stocks and slaughtered livestock to hinder the return of refugees. Many Kosovar Albanians were driven from their homes by the fighting and are facing the long winter from November to March without food and shelter, fuelling fears of an impending humanitarian disaster in the province unless aid is swiftly provided. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 250,000 ethnic Albanians, one quarter of the province's population, have been displaced and around 80,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and other parts of Serbia. UNHCR figures from late August placed the number of refugees camping out in the open at 50,000, 6 although the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said on 25 October that an estimated 40,000 had returned to settlements in the valleys, following the withdrawal of some government units to barracks. 7 Tens of thousands of refugees crossed into neighbouring Montenegro and Albania, leading the Montenegrin authorities to close the borders. 8 The flow into Albania also decreased, following reports in September that the Yugoslav Army was mining the border with both Albania and FYR Macedonia to disrupt attempts to re-supply the KLA "Report of the Secretary-General Prepared Pursuant to Resolutions 1160 (1998) and 1199 (1998) of the Security Council", S/1998/912, 3 October 1998 ibid Financial Times, 26 October ,000 refugees are reported to have fled to Albania and 45,000 to Montenegro. Displaced people now form 12 per cent of the population of Montenegro, one of the two constituent republics of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The relationship between the reformist Montenegrin government and the Serbian and Federal authorities has deteriorated rapidly during 1998, principally due to Montenegro's opposition to the conflict in Kosovo. "Report of the Secretary-General Prepared Pursuant to Resolutions 1160 (1998) and 1199 (1998) of the Security Council", S/1998/912, 3 October 1998, p.4 9

8 The Serb population in Kosovo has also suffered as a result of the conflict. A report published in early October by the human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, documents a series of breaches of international humanitarian law by both sides. 9 It accuses the Serbian special police and the Yugoslav Army of carrying out extra-judicial executions and systematically destroying civilian property. KLA fighters are also reported to have carried out summary executions and taken Serb civilians hostage. International aid organisations, including the Red Cross and the UNHCR, were able to return to Kosovo in mid-october to carry out relief work. The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, announced on 19 October that the UK has pledged 3 million pounds to the international aid effort Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998 from HRW web site at HC Deb 19 October 1998, c953 10

9 II International Reaction Since the commencement of hostilities in late February 1998 the international community has issued repeated demands for both sides in Kosovo to call a cease-fire and enter negotiations to find a political solution to the conflict. On 31 March the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1160 condemning the excessive use of force by government forces and imposing a comprehensive embargo on the sale of arms and related materiel of all types to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Council also condemned "all acts of terrorism" by the KLA. 11 In early June, NATO ministers warned President Milosevic that a failure to comply with UN demands would provoke air strikes, but attempts to obtain a mandate for military action from the UN Security Council faltered. Some concessions were obtained from Belgrade during talks in Moscow in mid-june between Milosevic and the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, including an agreement on the deployment of an international observer group to the province. The team of around fifty diplomats, known as the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM), has played an important role in providing intelligence about developments on the ground, although it has been hampered to a certain degree by its small size. During late June and early July the situation was complicated by the battlefield successes of the KLA, prompting concern among Western officials that NATO air strikes against FRY forces would only serve to assist the cause of the separatists. The advances made by the KLA also led to splits within the shadow Kosovar administration under Ibrahim Rugova, prompting the US special envoy to declare on 5 July: The ethnic-albanian leadership is confronting this crisis of war or peace without any coherence. Right now the Albanian side cannot speak with a single voice. 12 Some observers have claimed that Western governments refrained from condemning the start of the counter-offensive by FRY forces in July, in the hope that it might force the Kosovars into negotiations. The Economist wrote on 8 August that, initially at least, the FRY offensive was "quietly condoned by western governments," on the assumption that "the Albanian side could be brow-beaten into co-operation with western mediation efforts if it was exposed to a taste of Serbia's wrath." 13 Ethnic Albanian commentators were particularly critical of what they perceived to be a Western green light for Yugoslav aggression. Veton Surroi, the editor of the largest Albanian-language newspaper, Koha Ditore, claimed: S/RES/1160 (1998). See Appendix 1 for the full text of the resolution. Financial Times, 6 July 1998 Economist, 8 August

10 The international community allowed the offensive in a sense. Nobody in the West was terribly unhappy about the offensive against the KLA. It made it easier for Rugova [the president of the shadow Kosovar administration] to put together a different [negotiating] team. 14 As the scale of the FRY offensive became apparent during August, international condemnation of Belgrade increased. On 23 September the UN Security Council adopted a second resolution, Resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, demanding that all parties immediately cease hostilities and maintain a cease-fire in Kosovo. The Security Council demanded that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia "cease all action by the security forces affecting the civilian population and order the withdrawal of security units used for civilian repression." The Council also demanded Belgrade grant unimpeded access for international monitors and make rapid progress towards finding a political solution to the conflict. A. NATO Threatens Air Strikes By late September Western attitudes again appeared to be hardening in favour of military action against Belgrade. On 24 September NATO's North Atlantic Council (NAC) issued an ultimatum to Milosevic warning that air strikes would follow if he failed to stop the violence. The NAC also decided to move to force generation, bringing NATO military planning to a high state of readiness. 16 A number of factors may have influenced the change in mood. Firstly, some observers believe that military action was delayed until after the Bosnian elections of September because of fears that air strikes against Belgrade might strengthen the hand of the ultra-nationalist opposition in the Republika Srpska, the mainly Serb-populated component of Bosnia and Hercegovina. 17 Furthermore, the conflict in Kosovo has fuelled tension in Albania between the government and the main opposition group under former President Sali Berisha in the north of the country. The unrest has already precipitated the resignation in late September of the Albanian Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, and the West is anxious to quell the conflict in Kosovo before Albania becomes further involved. In addition, reports from the KDOM 18 indicated that widespread offensive activity by government units had continued after the adoption of Resolution In the last week of September FRY security forces carried out offensives in the areas of Licovac, Glogovac and Cicavica. A number of atrocities were uncovered, including the massacre on 26 September of nineteen ethnic Albanian civilians, apparently by Serbian MUP units Guardian, 19 August 1998 S/RES/1199 (1998). See Appendix 2 for the full text of the resolution HL Deb 5 October 1998, c68w In the event, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Bosnian Serb Radical Party, Nikola Poplasen, defeated the Western-backed incumbent, Biljana Plavsic, for the post of President of the Republika Srpska. The Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, see p.11 12

11 KDOM reported that the bodies of several women and children had been found near the village of Gornje Obrinje to the west of Pristina. The victims had been shot in the back of the head at close range as they tried to escape. 19 In an attempt to undermine demands for military action against FRY, the Serbian Prime Minister, Mirko Marjanovic, declared at a special session of parliament on 28 September that the military campaign had been completed and that "peace reigns in Kosovo." 20 Fighting reportedly continued for a couple of days, but by early October activity by government forces appeared to have decreased. The UN Security Council recognises that Belgrade has a right to maintain a certain number of troops in the province, but has demanded the units in the province be reduced to pre-conflict levels. 21 It was reported that several units had returned to barracks, although according to a Canadian member of KDOM, speaking on 10 October: Despite a Yugoslav Army pull-back there are still Serbian Ministry of Interior police positions throughout Kosovo and there has been no significant reduction. 22 In Resolution 1199 the Security Council requested that the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, keep it regularly informed of the situation and "provide an assessment on whether the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had complied in a constructive manner." 23 In response, Annan presented a report to the Security Council on 5 October, in which he outlined the situation on the ground in Kosovo, declaring he was "outraged by reports of mass killings of civilians in Kosovo, which recall the atrocities committed in Bosnia and Hercegovina." He warned: "If the present situation persists, thousands could die in the winter" and appealed for the international community "to take urgent steps in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster." However, he concluded: I do not have the means necessary to provide an independent assessment of compliance as required by the Security Council Therefore, the Council may wish to make its own judgement in this respect on the basis of the present report. 24 On 6 October the Security Council met to discuss the Secretary-General's report, but failed to reach agreement on further action against Belgrade Financial Times, 30 September 1998 Times, 29 September 1998 The Ministry of Defence estimates that prior to the start of the conflict in February 1998 the Yugoslav Army had 12,950 troops in Kosovo, and the MUP police units had 6,030. Sunday Telegraph, 11 October 1998 "Report of the Secretary-General Prepared Pursuant to Resolutions 1160 (1998) and 1199 (1998) of the Security Council", S/1998/912, 3 October 1998 ibid, p.3 13

12 B. Russian and Chinese Opposition to Air Strikes Russia has repeatedly voiced opposition to any military action to resolve the crisis and threatened to veto any resolution in the Security Council proposing air strikes. The Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, warned on 22 September: The use of levers of power to resolve the Kosovo conflict might lead to a big war with unpredictable consequences for the Balkan Region and Europe at large. 25 A Russian military official stated that in the event of NATO action: "Russia will have the right to develop full-scale military co-operation with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." 26 Russia's opposition to NATO plans was reinforced by the Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev, on 5 October when he warned that alliance air strikes could mark "a return to the Cold War" and jeopardise the already much-delayed ratification of the START II arms reduction treaty by the Russian parliament. Some NATO officials feared that the dispute could endanger the alliance's new relationship with Moscow in the NATO-Russia Joint Council, although Russian officials have issued similar threats in the past, notably at the time of NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs in The situation in Kosovo has provided an opportunity for the embattled government in Moscow to present itself as standing up to Western diplomatic pressure. Any incentive Moscow might have had for moderating its criticism of Western policy appears to have diminished now that the prospect of additional financial assistance from the IMF has receded. China also indicated its opposition to military action. The Chinese Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxuan, said on 12 October: The Chinese Government resolutely opposes the use of force or the threat to use force in international relations, and hopes that the Kosovo crisis will be resolved peacefully at an early date. Some countries are now threatening to use force against Yugoslavia. This is disturbing. 27 In spite of this opposition, NATO made clear it would act militarily to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe without an additional resolution from the UN Security Council, explicitly authorising the use of force. Early on 12 October the new Italian caretaker government and the outgoing German cabinet became the last two NATO countries to approve the use of force Financial Times, 23 September 1998 Scotsman, 12 October 1998 BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 12 October

13 III The Diplomatic Offensive In tandem with the NATO threat of military action against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke held a series of meetings with President Milosevic, in an effort to thrash out a political settlement for the province. The talks were characterised by Holbrooke as "intense and at times very heated", but ultimately proved successful. 28 On the evening of 12 October Holbrooke flew to Brussels to brief NATO leaders on the outcome of the negotiations, in which Milosevic agreed to a number of important concessions. A. The Agreement The central part of the agreement reached on 12 October deals with attempts to return a system of self-government to Kosovo. As of 27 October little more than an outline of a political settlement had been established, consisting of a number of basic principles. It is known that Milosevic has accepted a comprehensive timetable for action, leading to OSCE-monitored elections in the province within nine months, although the US has not revealed the precise detail of the agreement. On 13 October the Yugoslav government released the following 11-point statement, detailing its interpretation of the agreement for the province (known to the Serbs as Kosovo-Metohija, or Kosmet): 1. A political approach and a peaceful solution to the problem in Kosmet [Kosovo-Metohija] achieved through dialogue is the only acceptable way of reaching a lasting, just and humane solution to all open issues. 2. Violence and terrorism, as unacceptable methods, are in violation of all international norms and must cease immediately. 3. Any solution to Kosmet has to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty and the internationally recognized borders of the FRY, in line with the basic principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki final document and the Paris OSCE charter. 4. The solution has to be based on full respect for the equality of all the citizens and ethnic communities in Kosmet. Full affirmation and equal treatment of all ethnic, religious and cultural values as historical heritage will be guaranteed. 5. The future of Kosmet lies in peace, equality, integration, economic prosperity and free coexistence, and not in ethnic, religious, cultural, or any other divisions and isolation. 6. The legal arrangements for the establishment of autonomy in Kosmet have to be in accordance with the legal systems of the Republic of Serbia and the FRY, as well as in accordance with international standards and the Helsinki final document. 28 The Today Programme, Radio 4, 12 October

14 7. The citizens of Kosmet will practise their democratic autonomy through assembly, executive and judiciary bodies in Kosmet. Within nine months, free and fair elections will be held for the Kosmet bodies, including municipal ones. The FRY Government has invited the OSCE to supervise these elections so as to ensure that they are open and fair. 8. The members of ethnic communities will enjoy additional rights so as to enable them to preserve and express their ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity in line with international standards and the Helsinki final document. The ethnic communities will be equal in the legal sense, and they will not use their additional rights to threaten the rights of other ethnic communities or other civic rights. 9. In the context of a political solution for Kosmet, which will lead to the transfer of numerous responsibilities to the municipal level, local police will be established under local municipal control. This local police force, the structure of which will reflect the composition of the local population, will be coordinated by administrative bodies in Kosmet. This solution has to ensure full protection for all citizens and ethnic communities. 10. No person will be criminally prosecuted by state courts for crimes committed during the conflict in Kosmet, except for crimes against humanity and international rights as envisaged by Chapter 17 of the Federal Criminal Law. In order to ensure full transparency, the state will allow complete and unobstructed access to foreign experts, including forensic experts, who will cooperate with the state investigators. 11. The relevant bodies will reconsider verdicts passed on members of ethnic minorities in Kosmet convicted of criminal acts motivated by political goals, with the aim of an extraordinary easing of verdicts. 29 Both Milosevic and the Serbian Government declared their full endorsement of the agreement, which "fully preserves the territorial integrity and sovereignty" of Serbia, and "avoids conflict and creates conditions for a political dialogue within the framework of the legal systems of the Republic of Serbia and the FRY." 30 Under the agreement Belgrade has agreed to reduce its forces in Kosovo to pre-conflict levels, which will involve a significant reduction from the levels at the end of September. President Milosevic has also consented to over-flights by NATO reconnaissance planes and to the establishment of a two thousand-strong verification force under the auspices of the OSCE. Any attempt to place the force under NATO command would have provoked strong opposition from Moscow and Belgrade, and a UN-run operation was unlikely following the experience with UNPROFOR in Bosnia. The involvement of Russian observers as part of the OSCE force is seen as vital to reassure the Serbs that the verification mission will be conducted in an unbiased manner Summary of World Broadcasts, 13 October 1998 Yugoslav Daily Survey, 13 October

15 1. The Political Settlement Attempts to deliver a political settlement will draw heavily on a paper prepared by the Contact Group at a series of meetings chaired by the United Kingdom. The paper has been subsequently amended, following consultation with both the FRY government and the ethnic Albanian leadership in Pristina and a further period of intensive negotiations is expected in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues. On the question of Kosovo's future status, the paper apparently proposes re-establishing autonomy for Kosovo within the framework of Serbian sovereignty, giving the province its own autonomous government and police. The international community remains strongly opposed to independence and favours autonomy either within Serbia or as a constituent republic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, the Kosovar leadership will undoubtedly insist on strong international guarantees to prevent a repetition of the events of 1989 when Serbia was able to revoke unilaterally the province's autonomy. The timetable drawn up by Holbrooke calls for completion of the core elements of the political settlement by 2 November, followed by agreement on the rules and procedures for elections in the province by 9 November. The parliamentary and executive elections themselves are to be held within nine months and will be monitored by the OSCE to ensure they are free and fair. A new police force to replace the existing all-serb force is to be established under the control of the provincial government with a composition that reflects fairly the ethnic balance of the province. Furthermore, members of the Kosovo population convicted of criminal offences motivated by political aims will have their sentences reviewed. To reassure the native Serb population of Kosovo, members of ethnic minorities will be granted additional rights to safeguard their national cultural, religious and linguistic identities. 2. The Verification Agreements Two separate verification agreements have been signed with Belgrade to ensure its compliance. On 15 October the NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana, and the NATO Supreme Commander in Europe (SACEUR), General Wesley Clark, flew to Belgrade to sign the agreement authorising unarmed flights over Kosovo by alliance aircraft to verify the cease-fire and the withdrawal of government troops. Under the agreement, given the NATO code name " Eagle Eye", FRY forces are compelled to turn off all relevant radar systems while the verification flights are in progress. 17

16 Russia initially indicated a willingness to contribute aircraft to assist in enforcing the plan, but warned on 21 October that it would only take part once NATO has revoked its activation order authorising military action. 31 On 17 October the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Polish Foreign Minister Bronislav Geremek, signed a separate agreement in Belgrade to establish the OSCE verification force, consisting of two thousand inspectors. Under the terms of the agreement, the UN Security Council must pass a resolution calling on the OSCE to establish the mission. The initial term is for one year, although extensions can be granted at the request of either the head of the OSCE or the FRY government. The members of the OSCE mission will have full freedom of movement and access throughout Kosovo and enjoy diplomatic immunity. Belgrade has agreed to guarantee the safety and security of the monitors and, in the event of a threat to their safety, will permit and co-operate with any evacuation. Communication and liaison with the OSCE mission will apparently be supplied by a NATO cell operating in FYR Macedonia. Once it is operational, the OSCE force will absorb the existing fifty-strong Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, although, in the meantime, KDOM observers will remain active. According to the Foreign Office, KDOM members returned to Kosovo in mid- October to monitor the situation as the first OSCE verifiers began to arrive. The UK is contributing an initial group of around one hundred and fifty monitors with a possible further fifty, taking the total to two hundred. 32 The specific terms of reference for the mission are to verify the maintenance of the ceasefire by all sides and to investigate cease-fire violations. The mission is tasked with looking for and reporting on "roadblocks and other emplacements", 33 which may hinder the return of refugees. The head of the OSCE mission has the power to request the removal of any roadblock. Other ground rules for the monitors have yet to be established. The UN has also dispatched a small team of observers to act as the "eyes and ears" of the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. 34 The twenty-strong team arrived in the province on 20 October International Herald Tribune, 23 October 1998 HC Deb 19 October 1998, c954 "Agreement on the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission", 16 October 1998 Scotsman, 21 October

17 3. The International War Crimes Tribunal The International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established in May 1993 to investigate and prosecute war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia from The Tribunal has publicly indicted approximately eighty individuals for crimes committed in Bosnia and Croatia and issued sealed indictments for several others. According to the Statute of the Tribunal, any violations that occur in Kosovo during the conflict fall within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, a fact that was explicitly stated by the Tribunal prosecutor's office in a press release on 10 March According to the press release, the Tribunal "is empowered to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since This jurisdiction is ongoing and covers the recent violence in Kosovo." 35 This was further reaffirmed on 7 July by a letter from the chief prosecutor of the Tribunal, Justice Louise Arbour, to the Contact Group. In Resolution 1199, which forms the basis of the Holbrooke agreement, the UN Security Council called upon the FRY authorities to comply fully with the Tribunal, although the first team of international forensic experts, due to arrive in Kosovo during September, were denied visas by the FRY authorities. However, as part of the deal with Holbrooke the Yugoslav president stated that he would grant access to the teams, but would not recognise the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. Western diplomats therefore believe that Milosevic will permit the forensic teams to carry out their investigations, but that he may decide not to comply with any extradition requests that may emerge if indictments are issued. 36 This would be in defiance of the UN since under Security Council Resolution 827, which established the Tribunal, the Council decided that "all States shall cooperate fully with the International Tribunal and its organs." 37 A four-member advance team left for Kosovo on 23 October and Belgrade has agreed to grant full freedom of movement and access Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch, October 1998 Financial Times, 22 October 1998 S/RES/827 (1993) Financial Times, 22 October

18 B. Reaction to the Plan The reaction to the plan agreed by Holbrooke and Milosevic has been generally positive, although a number of questions remain. Western leaders are aware that Milosevic might renege on the agreement or at least use stalling tactics to delay seriously its implementation, hoping that NATO's resolve to launch military action will ebb away. At a press conference early on 13 October President Clinton warned Milosevic that the West would remain vigilant to ensure the commitments are carried out: "Commitments are not compliance. Balkan graveyards are filled with President Milosevic's broken promises." 39 As a result, NATO sought to maintain the pressure on Belgrade to comply by announcing late on 12 October that the NAC had agreed to issue the "activation order" for military action, transferring authority for alliance forces to General Wesley Clark, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Execution of the order, covering both limited air strikes and a phased air campaign, was initially delayed until 17 October to provide President Milosevic with time to demonstrate compliance with the agreement. Due to the complexity of the situation in the province, NATO subsequently agreed on 17 October to extend the activation order for an additional ten days to 27 October, although the decision was accompanied by criticism at the slow pace of withdrawal of government forces from the province. This message was reinforced by General Clark, who told President Milosevic during talks in Belgrade that further withdrawals would be necessary to avoid alliance air strikes. By 21 October an estimated 7,500 police and soldiers had been withdrawn from Kosovo, but NATO insisted that an additional 4,500 troops must also leave. 40 Milosevic initially refused, claiming that recent attacks by the KLA made further withdrawals impossible, but it was announced on 26 October that agreement had been reached on the levels to which FRY forces must be reduced. According to Ministry of Defence estimates on 26 October the Yugoslav Army has been reduced to below pre-conflict levels of around 12,950 to the current figure of around 12,000. With regard to the MUP special police units, Ministry of Defence estimates place the pre-conflict levels at around 6,030, whereas the current figures are believed to be between 9,500 and 10, Reports on 26 October indicated that further withdrawals were taking place ahead of the NATO deadline, although it appears that most of the troops involved were merely withdrawing to barracks within the province, which would enable them to re-deploy again at short notice. As of 27 October Milosevic seemed to have done enough to avert the Guardian, 13 October 1998 Times, 22 October 1998 Latest estimates from Her Majesty's Government 20

19 immediate threat of air strikes and NATO officials were meeting in Brussels to discuss the situation. Western leaders are aware that NATO forces cannot be maintained indefinitely at a very high state of readiness and are seeking ways of maintaining the pressure on Belgrade in the coming months. On 24 October the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1203, endorsing the agreements signed by the FRY government with the OSCE and NATO. 42 The vote in the Council on the resolution went through Russia and China abstained, despite the fact that all references to military action by NATO had been removed. In the resolution, the Security Council demanded that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia "comply fully and swiftly with resolutions 1160 (1998) and 1199 (1998) and cooperate fully with the OSCE verification Mission in Kosovo and the NATO Air Verification Mission over Kosovo." 43 It demanded that the Kosovo Albanian leadership do likewise, and insisted that they also "condemn all terrorist actions" and "pursue their goals by peaceful means only." In addition, the Security Council affirmed "that, in the event of an emergency, action may be needed to ensure [the] safety and freedom of movement" of the OSCE mission, although it did not specify exactly what form that action might take. 1. Reaction from Belgrade By appearing on television to endorse the Holbrooke agreement, Milosevic has committed himself publicly to its success. At the same time though, he has sought to downplay the extent to which he has compromised on his earlier opposition to any international involvement in Kosovo's affairs. The Yugoslav government has imposed strict controls on the media, banning local newspaper, radio and television reports on the scale of government troop withdrawals. Indeed, some observers anticipated problems for Milosevic in selling the deal to the population at large and in winning the support of key political figures, such as the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the ultra-nationalist Serb Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj. Western diplomats were concerned that Seselj might decide to denounce the Yugoslav President for betraying Serb interests, but in the event he joined Milosevic in endorsing the deal S/RES/1203 (1998). See Appendix 3 for full text of the resolution. ibid 21

20 2. Ethnic-Albanian Reaction Some observers remain convinced that the agreement will fail to halt the conflict as neither side is in favour of autonomy as a solution. 44 Albanian commentators have criticised Holbrooke for imposing a deal without consulting the KLA. Veton Surroi of the Albanian-language newspaper, Koha Ditore, said on 20 October: Nobody went to them [the KLA] and said: "This is the deal. Now will you settle down" The KLA has not been included in this process so the Serbs can rightfully say that if they withdraw, the KLA will come down from the hills into the towns. Of course they will. 45 Prominent KLA members have also denounced the agreement for failing to offer anything more than a return to autonomy. They insist that the KLA cease-fire of 8 October remains in force, although a number of attacks by guerrillas in mid-october indicate it may be on the verge of collapse. KLA commanders have warned that full-scale attacks on FRY forces will resume if Belgrade fails to withdraw its forces by the NATO deadline of 27 October. Nonetheless, the KLA's position appears to have become more flexible, following the heavy defeat by government forces during the summer. An insistence on independence has been replaced by demands for the Yugoslav government to fix a date for the Kosovo population to achieve "self-determination" by means of a referendum, although this is still strongly opposed by Belgrade. There are also doubts over the ability of the 54-member OSCE to carry out its mission. The organisation has deployed monitors to oversee elections across Europe, but has little experience in monitoring conflict situations. If Milosevic does not demonstrate compliance with the demands of the UN Security Council, then the danger is that the members of the OSCE verification force could be used as "human shields" against NATO air strikes, as occurred in Bosnia. The unarmed status of the observers will make them dependent on NATO forces should their position come under threat and the head of the OSCE, Bronislav Geremek, has called for a NATO force to be made available on call to provide protection. 46 The Foreign Office announced on 12 October that it was closing the British Embassy in Belgrade and withdrawing staff "as a precautionary measure." There are fears that NATO military action might lead to retaliatory measures by Serbs against Westerners in both Yugoslavia and Bosnia. During the NATO air campaign in Bosnia during 1995, the Bosnian Serbs took several hundred UN peacekeepers hostage and used them as "human shields" around high-risk targets For example, Isabel Hilton in The Guardian, 16 October 1998 Daily Telegraph, 21 October 1998 Times, 16 October

21 C. The Position of the United Kingdom The British Government has welcomed the Holbrooke agreement, although the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has acknowledged that the agreement is far from perfect. In a statement to the House of Commons on 19 October he said: International agreements rarely are perfect. There is, however, nothing to be gained by wasting our time wishing we had a different agreement. The reasonable approach must be for us to do everything we can to make this agreement work. It will take great effort by the international community to deliver on its contribution, and it will take heavy pressure on President Milosevic to ensure that he sticks to his side of the bargain. Britain played a leading part within the international community in putting the pressure on President Milosevic that made these agreements possible. Britain is now demonstrating that we are among the first nations to make a practical contribution towards making a success of the agreements. We will not let up on our efforts until President Milosevic carries out his commitment to withdraw forces, and until the people of Kosovo can return to their homes without fear, can rebuild their villages in peace, and can start to construct a self-governing Kosovo without repression from Belgrade. 47 He also insisted that the agreement had only been made possible by the threat of military force by NATO: There can be no Member of the House who imagines that President Milosevic would have made such a commitment if the diplomatic efforts backed by the contact group had not also been backed by the credible threat of military action by NATO. 48 The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Michael Howard, welcomed what he called the "modestly encouraging news" announced by Robin Cook, but criticised the government for failing to take action earlier in the year: Does he [the Foreign Secretary] not acknowledge that, if action had been taken along these lines in March or April, as I then urged, hundreds of lives would have been saved, hundreds of thousands of people would still be living in their homes and enormous suffering and anguish would have been prevented? The agreement that has been reached is to be welcomed, but on the basis of "better late than never". We must all hope that it works, but it is certainly no cause for self-congratulation HC Deb 19 October 1998, c955 HC Deb 19 October 1998, c953 HC Deb 19 October 1998, c

22 The Foreign Affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, Menzies Campbell, stated his party's support for the agreement, and asked for confirmation that the Government would press for full co-operation with the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He also voiced concern over the unarmed status of the monitors, fearing that, in the event of NATO air strikes, they may be subjected to "the same kind of intimidation as was found by the representatives of UNPROFOR during the Bosnia conflict." HC Deb 19 October 1998, c957 24

23 IV The Military Option A. The Legal Basis for the Use of Force Opinions differ over the possible legal basis for the use of force by NATO. Security Council Resolution 1199 of 23 September was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which covers "Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression." According to Article 39 of the Charter: The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security. Article 41 states that the Council "may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions," such as the imposition of economic sanctions. If, however, the Council considers that these measures "would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate," Article 42 stipulates that "it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security." 51 However, it has usually been considered necessary for the Security Council to adopt a resolution explicitly authorising such action. Paragraph 16 of Resolution 1199 states that the Security Council: 16. Decides, should the concrete measures demanded in this resolution and resolution 1160 (1998) not be taken, to consider further action and additional measures to maintain or restore peace and stability in the region; 52 Critics argue that Resolution 1199 does not constitute sufficient legal basis, believing that the Security Council has to adopt an unambiguous resolution authorising the use of "all necessary means". Such a resolution has not been forthcoming due to objections from two of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia and China. Furthermore, both Moscow and Beijing have warned NATO that taking military action without a further resolution would amount to circumventing the Security Council. The Chinese Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxuan, said on 9 October: Military action against Yugoslavia will not only violate the UN Charter and other universally acknowledged norms of international law, but will also do nothing to help resolve the issue; it may even give rise to serious consequences Chapter VII, Charter of the United Nations S/RES/1199 (1998) BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 12 October